The "Year of the Period Startup." It was an honor unofficially but aptly bestowed upon 2016 by feminists and capitalists alike. We cheered for the women turning the tides on the way we think about the most basic of bodily functions. For the first time in history, we were unapologetically celebrating menstruation and the strong women shattering the stigmas.
Yet, for all of the progress that's been made, 2017 has also brought about a new perspective on the feminist movement. While we've seen shining moments of women's empowerment (The Women's March), we've also come to see closer scrutiny, with last month's exposé of Miki Agrawal serving as the most glaring example.
The founder of Thinx, period-proof underwear, had once been heralded for her female forward advertising but has since been accused of sexually harassing the women in her growing startup. The irony was not lost on anybody.
Which had everybody thinking, is the feminists movement just a facade? Is progress really being made or is it all a charade?
The good news is, Thinx is only one of a bounty of startups for women led by women. And, despite having one bad apple in the bunch, the rest of this group makes me believe that the future still is in fact female.
To renew your faith in feminism, I’ve compiled 12 female founders and their she-centric startups that you can be proud to stand behind. From personal finance to personal hygiene, these brands will help you keep up the good feminist fight.
1. Sallie Krawcheck is on a mission to close the investment gap and help women achieve their financial goals. She is the co-founder and CEO of Ellevest, a digital financial advisor specifically designed for women around their unique, lifetime salary curv, risk preferences and lifetime goals.
2. Lauren Schulte believes having your period shouldn’t be taboo. Talking about it shouldn’t be either. That’s why she co-founded The Flex Company, the sole maker of menstrual discs that offer 12 hours of leak-free period protection and mess-free period sex.
3. Brittney Castro wants to help women become more confident about their money. She’s the founder of Financially Wise Women and works with women through one on one coaching and her online Money Class to teach them how to budget, save and invest.
4. Kirsten Karchmer is passionate about helping women improve their chances of conceiving and achieving their dreams of parenthood. She developed Conceivable a technology driven program with tools to improve fertility and give women a better chance of getting pregnant.
5. Lauren McGoodwin wants to help women find and grow into the careers of their dreams. She is the founder of Career Contessa, a digital platform providing advice, mentoring and courses to help women do just that.
6. Katherine Ryder wants to make it easier for women to get immediate, professional care from someone they trust. She’s the creator of Maven, a network of doctors, nurse practitioners, mental health providers and specialists in all areas of women’s and children’s health.
7. Meika Hollender is committed to putting women’s health first. She and her father are the founders of Sustain Natural, a certified B-Corp making sustainable, organic condoms, lubricants and wipes.
8. Susan Johnson believed women needed a place to connect with other women online. Her answer was Women.com, a social media platform built exclusively for them.
9. Catalina Girald felt she could empower women and promote body acceptance through lingerie. She teamed up with actress Gina Rodriguez to develop Naja, a line of eco-conscious lingerie made by women for women.
10. Jaclyn Johnson wants to make it easier than ever for like-minded, high achieving women to come together. At her highly curated and impactful Create + Cultivate conferences, creatives and entrepreneurs are invited to a day of workshops, mentor sessions and panels designed to empower the pursuit of their dreams.
11. Jennifer Hyman and her Rent the Runway co-founder Jenny Fleiss are on a mission to break barriers that stand in the way of women building big, impactful businesses. That’s why they started Project Entrepreneur, a five-week accelerator program and venture competition for female founders.
12. Jesse Draper is committed to helping to increase the amount of venture funding given to women entrepreneurs. She’s the founder of Halogen Ventures, an early stage venture capital fund focused on female founded consumer technologies.
Which female founder is most inspiring to you? Do you have any other favorites not already on this list?